Babies need a lot of stuff, especially in that first year as they transition from newborns to infants on the go. To gear up, the average middle-income family will spend upwards of $12,000 during the year alone, and it’s possible to spend far more than that.
You will have one-time and recurring costs. One-time costs include many of the basics baby is going to need (it’s possible you received some of these items via your registry, which would create some extra room in the budget), and are some of the more expensive things baby requires.
If you’re sticking to the essentials, you’ll buy a crib, bedding and mattress. But you may consider other items that make life easier, like a dresser/changing table and a glider or other comfortable chair to help you get through those first months of nighttime feedings. The budget for these items can vary wildly and easily reach the tens of thousands of dollars for a fully decked-out room, but plan on at least $250 for the crib alone.
Getting your baby from point A to B can require different tools for different scenarios. Even city dwellers will need a car seat, and although high-end ones can cost several hundred dollars, it’s possible to find models for under $100. They all have to meet standard safety requirements, so this is an area where you can truly spend an amount that works for you. (Note: Buying second-hand car seats is discouraged, as any car seat that has been through an accident is no longer considered safe for a child. With second-hand seats, there’s no way to know its accident status.)
Strollers also fall under this category. To avoid having three different strollers for different uses (really, it happens), try to think big-picture before buying. Do you need something easy to fold and bring on public transportation? Are you an avid runner who would enjoy a jogging stroller? Same goes for baby carriers and slings. You may want more than one that offers different levels of support, especially as baby grows.
These are the items that you’ll need to buy over and over. Pro tip: Check out subscribe-and-save services from sites like Amazon for a bit of a price break!
Formula can be one of the biggest recurring costs. The price varies by brand and whether it’s powdered or pre-mixed, but it generally costs $70 to $150 per month. Since most pediatricians don’t recommend switching to cow’s milk until the baby turns one, you’re staring down 12 months of this cost.
Even if your baby is being exclusively breastfed, you’ll need to budget for a breast pump (if your insurance doesn’t cover yours) and related supplies like milk storage bags as well as nursing bras, and perhaps nursing-friendly clothes (shirts with snaps on the side, for instance) for home and work.
The average kid will go through more than 2,700 diapers in the first year. Not only is that a lot of diapers, it’s also a crazy amount of diaper wipes. As with most baby needs, there are a wide range of options when it comes to diapers, but you can bet on $50 to $70 per month here. Cloth diapers are an alternative that are considerably less expensive, but definitely more work.
Babies grow like crazy so the quest to keep them in clothes that actually fit is nonstop until after the first year. And depending on how “neat” your baby is (and how high your tolerance for spaghetti-sauce stains is), they can go through a few outfits a day. Your local climate can affect this budget, too, whether you’re in a warm area and need sun hats, or suffer long winters and need more undershirts and insulated gear. Regardless of fashion, baby is going to need quite the wardrobe. Estimate around $1,000 in clothes in that first year. Pro tip: Do not be afraid to beg your friends for hand-me downs. And then, if they’re still in good condition, pay them forward to the next mom.
Unless you’re staying at home for the first year, you’ll need to budget a child care situation. Costs vary widely among different options — a nanny, nanny share or day care — but you can tally the number of hours you need and apply an hourly rate that works within your budget. This is especially true if you don’t have family in the area willing to pitch in.
Babies get bored and parents need a reprieve, so having some great play options on hand is critical. Books, blocks, play mats and other toys are all part of baby’s development in that first year and can run you about $30 to $50 a month in the blink of an eye (eco-friendly and sustainable items will cost more). Here’s where the second-hand market can really be your friend. Join local parenting groups on Facebook where moms and dads often post to hand off neglected toys. And when all else fails, household items will do in a pinch. Who needs a fancy plaything when there’s a drawer of storage containers and wooden spoons within reach? A little creativity can be a new-parent budget’s best friend.